Mourinho revels in that special feeling

Bolton Wanderers 0 - Chelsea 2
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The Independent Football

Just champion, as they say in this part of the world, though only after Chelsea had produced possibly their most feeble 45 minutes' work of the season. A significant improvement in tempo and accuracy after half-time brought two smartly taken goals from Frank Lampard, enabling the west London club to celebrate their title, at last, after 50 years of waiting.

Just champion, as they say in this part of the world, though only after Chelsea had produced possibly their most feeble 45 minutes' work of the season. A significant improvement in tempo and accuracy after half-time brought two smartly taken goals from Frank Lampard, enabling the west London club to celebrate their title, at last, after 50 years of waiting.

The additional week's waiting after failing to win at home to Arsenal recently will be long forgotten once the record books appear commemorating Jose Mourinho's continuing run of success. But he and his squad cannot afford to dwell on it yet, as they spend the weekend in the North-west before Tuesday's critical Champions' League semi-final at Liverpool.

Bolton, encouraged before the start by Everton, Liverpool and Middlesbrough all dropping important points, were the better side for half an hour or more, but suffered a lack of defensive discipline in conceding the second goal quarter of an hour from time. After lying 14th on New Year's Day, they have still not given up hope of overhauling Everton, their opponents here on the final day, for what we have to assume will be the fourth Champions' League place.

The Bolton manager, Sam Allardyce, has rather audaciously claimed some of the credit for Chelsea's success this season, in that the 2-2 draw his side salvaged at Stamford Bridge in November, after being 2-0 down, showed them the value of direct football and set-pieces.

It certainly proved that Petr Cech, John Terry and company were vulnerable to that most up-and-at-'em British style which Bolton - paradoxically given Allardyce's cosmopolitan recruiting policy - typify. Always have done, in fact; one of Chelsea's 1955 heroes reminded us that in his day "Bolton were the hardest team and nasty with it". Those selected yesterday knew they would again have to face a physical challenge as well as a diet of long throws and longer balls, and so it proved.

Keen as he was to secure the title at last, it was inevitable that even as focused a man and manager as Mourinho would have one eye on Tuesday night at Anfield, which was reflected in his team selection. Glen Johnson, one of only two fit full-backs, was rested and Joe Cole was a substitute, while Arjen Robben, who had insisted he was not fit to start against Liverpool last Wednesday, again had his way and sat the evening out.

That meant Géremi filling in at right-back in his first Premiership start since August, with Jiri Jarosik on the left of a midfield diamond behind Eidur Gudjohnsen and Didier Drogba. As is often the case with that formation, there was a lack of width, which the Chelsea full-backs were in no position to supply, occupied as they were with containing Bolton's wide attackers, Stelios Giannokopoulos and a fired-up El Hadji Diouf.

Consequently, there was no threat whatever to the home goal for the whole of the first half, though Cech at the other end for once had to earn his corn. He made his first save as early as the third minute, from Stelios's close-range jab. It followed one of Jay-Jay Okocha's deep throws, the next of which brought a booking for Claude Makelele, illegally jumping in front of him. Kevin Davies headed wide and missed the best opportunity of the half in the 23rd minute, losing Terry to meet Bruno N'Gotty's free-kick with a header lacking the required degree of power. Terry did better a minute later, getting across to tackle as Diouf escaped down the left. Chelsea improved a little in the second quarter of the game, but much of the passing was untidy and Jarosik's two woefully inaccurate 25 yarders were as close - if that is the word - as they came to a goal.

The gradual improvement continued as a fractious second half progressed, though with Tiago shooting too high, Jussi Jaaskelainen had not made a save of any note before he was beaten by Lampard. The England midfielder received from Drogba, cut too easily inside the right-back Vincent Candela for Bolton's liking and drove in the goal that finally gave the Chelsea hordes something to sing about.

Allardyce immediately sent on Henrik Pedersen and Kevin Nolan for Okocha and Stelios, Mourinho responding by adding a third centre-half in the lanky Robert Huth to repel an anticipated aerial bombardment. It soon materialised, and another long throw from the left almost brought an equaliser. Géremi inadvertently headed towards his own goal and Cech pulled off a fine save before crashing into a post.

Another Bolton corner proved the home side's downfall. Steve Dunn, the referee, either did not see or ignored Terry holding back Fernando Hierro and Géremi, gaining possession midway in his own half, spotted that the home defence had disappeared.

Lampard picked up the pass before rounding the goalkeeper and then celebrating his 17th goal of the season - the one that finally clinched the championship.

Before the finish, the coaches and substitutes stood arm-in-arm on the touchline in a symbolic show of unity. Worthy champions? Of course. If Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger agree about something for once, who are the rest of us to argue?

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